by David Hanson, USS Midway Museum Curator
Over the course of a couple months in late 2008 the chapel took shape, being worked on by myself and the few volunteers in our spare time. Once all of the paneling had been installed the space had a different look and feel to it, and I began to look at how to furnish the space. While I perused furniture catalogs for things like appropriate chairs, I got word that the USS Kittyhawk CV-63 had arrived in town, making a stop on her way to Bremerton to join the Ready Reserve Fleet there. Contact was made with the Chaplain’s department onboard Kittyhawk and the head chaplain (knowing that the Kittyhawk was leaving active service) offered to give the Midway Museum all of their chapel
furnishings as well as most of the items from their chaplain’s offices. Again, NHHC made the gifts an official loan from the US Navy to the Midway Museum (items that have to be accounted for in an annual report each year).
We received from Kittyhawk a room full of chairs, a host box, a holy water dispenser, a podium, an altar, and other items which we installed in the chapel. The podium was an ugly piece of (mostly) unpainted bare metal, which we scraped clean and then covered with leftover wood paneling from the walls so that it now looks like it is made of wood. A large Midway logo decal was purchased on eBay and affixed to the front of the podium, making it a Midway podium.
All of the items from the Kittyhawk’s chaplains office were transferred to the Midway’s chaplains office next door (that space was semi-restored after the chapel was completed, and is now open for “behind the scenes” tours). We heard later that the XO of the Kittyhawk was livid with anger that someone had removed equipment from his ship without his permission. He had been tasked by the Navy to keep the ship in fighting condition as the ship went into the active reserve fleet. However someone convinced him that the ship could still fight without the chapel being available, so he supposedly relented.
Lights were installed in the ceiling panels. Stanchions with thick leather ropes were purchased to separate the sitting area from the front where the altar, podium, and items not to be touched by the public were located. An alarm system to detect intruders going past the stanchions was installed (but later permanently deactivated because the alarm kept going off.)
I found an old (1950’s) record album on eBay of the Naval Academy chapel choir singing Navy hymns and transferred one recording to a digital file that now plays over speakers installed in the ceiling. That track is “Eternal Father, Strong To Save” (The Navy Hymn).